Senate Democrats News Conference on Impeachment Trial CSPAN January 31, 2020 11:06am-11:28am EST
gets underway on c-span2. while we wait, more from washington journal. >> we are joined on capitol hill by senator jack reed of rhode island joining us and of what could be the final day of the impeachment trial. what do you think is ahead today in the senate? >> i hope we get witnesses. a very basic issue as you are contemplating a serious decision to the american public. what will help you make a better decision and it is obvious, listen to ambassador bolton, he has firsthand knowledge of charges, the allegations. we should do that. it does not appear we will be successful in getting that testimony but we should do that.
>> good morning, everybody. i am proud to be joined by my colleagues this morning. as everyone knows, for months we democrats have relentlessly asked to hear from relevant witnesses, review relevant documents in this trial for a very simple reason, this is about truth. and today the senate will vote on whether witnesses and documents are allowed in this trial. the importance of this vote is self-evident. trials have witnesses, trials have documents. the vote today is about whether the senate will have a fair trial for the president of the united states. so it is deeply disturbing that on something of such importance to the future of our democracy,
my republican colleagues announced last night they will vote against hearing additional evidence. it is clear where the american people stand on the issue, republican senators go against the will of the people, will have to reckon with it. the result of today's vote is an open question. i would note that even in senator alexander's statement announcing his opposition to new evidence he said that it was proven that the president did what he was accused of. he came to the wrong conclusion about hearing evidence in this trial. that is clear. senator alexander, senior senate republican, retiring member said out loud that most senate republicans believe in private, that yes, the president did withhold military assistance to try to get ukraine to help in his election
and yes, the president did interfere with congressional investigations about misconduct. he said yes, the president conditioned foreign aid in the white house meeting with an ally at war on a bogus investigation that would help his reelection. alexander rejected 90% of the arguments from the president's council that the president did nothing wrong. he acknowledged the president did something the founders feared most, potential corruption of our national elections by a foreign power. solicited by none other than our own president and to hide that gross misconduct white house exhausted every legal trick in the book to prevent congress from investigating. if my republican colleagues refuse to even consider witnesses and documents in this trial, this country is headed
for the greatest cover-up since watergate. if my republican colleagues refuse to even consider witnesses and documents in the trial, what will the president conclude? we all know he will conclude he can do it again and congress can do nothing about it. he can try to cheat in his election again, something that eats at the roots of our democracy and one more point, the point i have been making for weeks that is most relevant today, my republican colleagues refuse to consider witnesses and documents in this trial, the president's acquittal will be meaningless. it will be the result of a sham trial. if there are no witnesses, no documents in this trial, there will be a permanent ascarerisk written in permanent ink. so senate republicans face a
choice today between seeking the truth or covering it up. between a fair trial and a farce. between country and party. no matter what the result of today's vote i believe the truth will eventually come out. my republican colleagues should think about that before they vote today. the truth, the truth will eventually come out. we could vote to see the truth in this trial or it could come out in a few weeks or a few months and on that day every republican who voted to hide the truth in an impeachment trial of the president will have to answer for it. >> since the news first broke
about the call to pressure the ukrainian president to investigate his political rival democrats have made very clear we need to approach this fairly, transparently and in a way that allows all the facts to come out. we didn't want to be in this position, no one does but the severity of the potential violations became clear, we insisted the investigation and trial uphold american values that we and our constituents hold dear. trials should have evidence and witnesses, no one is above the law and every public servant's first loyalty should be to the people of this country, not a political party or figure. what we have seen from our republican colleagues has strayed dangerously far from these very basic principles. they stuck their heads in the sand when the senate was in an
overwhelming case indicating the president's guilt, twisted themselves in knots claiming they needed more time before voting to hear witnesses and evidence and then said hearing new testimony or viewing new information would take too long and now all signed point to a rush to acquittal of an impeached president not because there wasn't enough evidence, there is already, and everything including the president's own aids and statement suggests more exist. the reason we expect a rush to acquittal of donald trump tonight is senate republicans are about to make a terrible choice. they are about to dismiss this with a shrug and a who cares
rather than with deliberation and substance it certainly warrants. they are about to choose a cover-up rather than a fair trial and put donald trump before the united states of america. we are asking senate republicans one final time, don't make that terrible choice. choose our country. choose our national security, choose our democratic institutions and choose the rule of law. if you still somehow have doubts about the evidence the house presented vote for a fair trial with witnesses and evidence. if you have no doubt and just want to prove democrats wrong do the same, for the sake of showing the senate can fulfill its responsibility if for no other reason but do not make this trial a cover-up just to avoid hearing the truth you don't think you will like because everyone in this country will hear it sooner or later. the full truth will come out and each of us will forever own our decisions about whether or not we are on the right side of it. we have an opportunity tonight for a fair trial that ensures we have as much information as possible to make that decision. let's not waste it. >> senator sherrod brown.
>> thank you. i'm not a lawyer but i understand when you have a trial you have the prosecution, house managers, the defense, the president's lawyers and witnesses and testimony and evidence and as my colleagues said, this is a sham trial if there are not witnesses and evidence and testimony. every single trial ever in the united states senate, a dozen and a half of them has had witnesses, this will be precedent-setting, first time that has ever happened. we know a number of things, the president of the united states solicited a bribe from a foreign leader in exchange for assistance from his campaign. we know the president cheated, he got caught and tried to
cover it up. we know those things. we know that mitch mcconnell announced ahead of time what the verdict was going to be, he was going to acquit this president and mitch mcconnell wants this trial over quickly with as little public attention as possible. we have watched, we see fewer cameras in the chamber in the united states senate so that america can't see what they're senator is doing as this trial goes on for the last week or so, we see it in the number of how reporters are restricted from certain areas when my whole career in the senate you have been able to roam free and talk to us in the halls, most of us believe in the free press, all of us now you are not an enemy of the people and most of us stop and talk to you. mitch mcconnell wants this over
as fast as possible with as little attention as possible. that is why i'm going to and fight to ensure the american people can hear our deliberations after the amendment and after the amendment tonight on the deliberations, that there be fool deliberations and the lights beyond the cameras be on and the american public and see. i filed a motion to make sure these are open to the public, not done behind closed doors. these proceedings made clear what dangerous behavior we condone if we acquit the president. i have spoken to lots of republicans about this. we know what they say about this president in private. we know the fear in their eyes about voting against this president. when i talk to my colleagues the one question i ask most of them is if we acquit this president what is to stop him from doing something worse? he will be unhinged, he is a
vengeful man, he will engage in even more reckless foreign policy, he will be more likely to try to steal the 2020 election. i ask my colleagues and all they do is shrug. they know better. i am hopeful that we will keep trying to get witnesses but if we acquit this president, a sham trial with no witnesses it sets a president. you can view your office and congress will look the other way. >> senator harris. >> thank you for your leadership. let's take this to the end game and we can take the end game based on a few days ago when we started. they have been trying to rush this thing through. at first they proposed we would have two days and their constituents say that is ridiculous so they extended it to three. they have always been focused on their end game and the end game has been acquittal but here is the deal. you cannot have a true acquittal if you have not had a fair trial.
they are not going to get what they have been trying to get. if they don't allow witnesses to come forward. this is not a fair trial. the american people, the vast majority of the american public want the united states senate to produce the new evidence. the only place this is being debated between republicans and democrats is not among the american people but here in the united states senate. the american people, republicans and democrats, the vast majority, believe the new evidence should come forward. the vast majority whoever walked into the courthouse as witness, as accused him as a juror know that the only attributes of a fair trial are witnesses and documents, evidence none of which have been produced in any meaningful way based on what we know is available in the united states senate.
what we are about to do today is have the united states senate based on a majority of senators make a decision to exclude evidence that is available. let's talk about this in the context of the issue before us, there have been three impeachments of the president of the united states in two centuries of our history. this is the most serious in terms of the charges. underlying the concerns the framers of the constitution we all took an oath many times to protect and defend the united states constitution the most serious concern our framers and founders had was an entanglement, foreign entanglement in our government,
in our democracy, in our republic, in our elections and that is the basis of article i in the impeachment of donald trump. is it not right if we are going to honor our oath much less as everyone walks around here wearing the flag, that we would fight for the integrity of this process and receive evidence we know is available? the bottom line is at the end of this they will probably get what they want which is we are going to end this today or maybe tomorrow, but the evidence that we know is available will not have been presented and what that means, bottom line, this will not have been a fair trial and therefore
they cannot walk out of this building and allege and assert there has been a true acquittal. there is no true acquittal without a fair trial. >> don't you view it as a partial victory that you have a republican debate i will start again. do you view it is at least a partial victory that you have a republican like lamarr alexander saying you proved it, the president did do something wrong? >> he should have done the right thing and voted for witnesses and documents but i believe the vast majority of my republican colleagues even though they are fearful of donald trump believe the president did just what the house managers allege. >> they are saying out loud, house impeachment managers are right. >> as i mentioned in my statement i think it shows that the house managers were right
and even lamarr alexander, very loyal republican basically rejects 90% of what the president's counsel said in the senate chamber. >> republicans said voters should make the decision with the election coming up. why shouldn't voters make this decision? >> the bottom line, when the president does something so egregious, you don't look the other way. does that mean you just do this in a second term? there is one more point. if this president is interfering in the elections the elections may not have a fair result. the very charge goes to the fairness of our election and very few people doubt that he would do it again and again and again. he has already tried several times. >> what has surprised you looking back over the last several months, have you been surprised how this is turned out and with the benefit of hindsight, house democrats or senate democrats?
>> i have great faith in nancy pelosi and the job the democrats did in the house and great faith in house managers and the job they did. when we look back the thing we are most gratified about is we knew this was an uphill fight, we knew you need two thirds to convict. we know the president is a vindictive, nasty president who goes after anyone who opposes him, we know the republicans who might know better want to go in line with him. the fact that four weeks ago after mitch mcconnell said on sean hannity he is doing just what the president wants and we have no chance for any kind of negotiation i wrote a letter to all my colleagues that we want these four witnesses in these four documents. the strength and unity of those in my caucus, that is ringing
let fairness ring from one coast to the other, all across america, americans know that democrats want a fair trial with witnesses and documents that are needed and they now republicans are opposing even that. we are very gratified how this moves forward. we are not in the majority. we have a president who strikes fear in the hearts of republicans and yet here we are. and we feel we have done a very good job. in the corner there. >> would you go to a backup motion to proceed to the articles? >> i am going to talk with my caucus. i do believe this. i believe that the american people should hear what every senator thinks and why they are voting why they are voting. we will try to make sure that happens but i won't get into any details. i need to discuss it with my caucus.
>> thank you for doing this but can you explain what is going to happen on the fourth there is a tie and chief roberts break the tie? my understanding is the senate can overrule him so what is the point of him having the authority to break a tie? >> i'm not going to get into that. i will just say this. if it is a tie it will be up to the chief justice. the chief justice knows that every trial has witnesses and documents. you will go next. >> you would like to see open deliberations and for how long? >> i will not get into the details. we will find that in the caucus. we always have the inclination but sometimes open is hard if you go into closed session. it takes two thirds. >> what would you say to democrats that break from the party and vote with republicans to acquit the president? is better flexion on your leadership? >> bottom line is very simple.
because of the great unity and strength of our caucus from one end to the other, any acquittal of the president has no value. last question. >> realistically, house managers done or said anything differently, any situation -- >> house managers have done a very good job, thank you, everybody. >> we outmaneuvered by mitch mcconnell? >> let me ask about your motion. [inaudible conversations] >> c-span, your unfiltered view of government created in 1979 br